NEW YORK, N.Y. - Move over, studded bracelets and chandelier earrings. Right now, it's all about nails.
Rhinestones, 3-D designs, textured topcoats and new offerings from fashion royalty have upped the ante on fingertips, said Kahlana Barfield, beauty director for InStyle magazine.
"We're seeing so many nail artists emerging and nail art salons that are launching," she said. "They're showing up across the country. Nails are an accessory now in the same way as jewelry, but a more affordable one."
So what does a decent design in lacquer cost? Barfield says $30 to $35 should do it, depending on the bling. But embellishments, treatments and extensions can up the price to $250 or more.
For the DIY-inclined, a simple trip to the drug store for pins, stickers and rhinestones offers a more inexpensive option.
"People are being super, super creative with nail art. ...They're really having fun," Barfield said. "Nails are a talking point."
Five trends for nails:
Got a thing for those red-soled Christian Louboutins? The shoe designer is hoping his fashionista fans will go for his first try at beauty — glossy, luxe nail lacquer that launched this month in his signature hue.
Rouge Louboutin, loaded with pigment that goes on easily, is priced at $50 for an eight-inch spiky bottle based on the tallest heel he ever came up with, the Ballerina Ultima. Thirty more colours are on the way.
Nails have become a growth market for designers: Phillip Lim and his 3.1 Phillip Lim brand have a new collaboration with Nars. Burberry opened its first beauty store, including polishes, in London's Covent Garden last year. Anna Sui, Michael Kors, Marc Jacobs and Tom Ford are all recent entrants.
Prabal Gurung works with Sally Hansen and Brit "it" girl Alexa Chung came up with fabric-inspired finishes for London-based Nails Inc. Her bottles include a cashmere look and heavy glitter options.
Louboutin's lacquers are the most expensive for a major brand.
"Obviously the Chanels and the Diors have been doing nail polish forever, but what's great about Louboutin is there are so many women who love his shoes but might not be able to afford them. It's a way of getting a piece of the brand," Barfield said. "The bottle is like a piece of art. He wanted it to be something that looked beautiful on a woman's vanity and on her fingers."
Ciara, Beyonce and Adele have all blinged out the underside of their nails.
"It's kind of like a peekaboo. It's unexpected. The long, almond-shaped nails are really big right now, so they allow enough real estate for you to embellish underneath your nail," Barfield said. "This is a new twist on nail art, which is such a big trend right now. You don't have to get this done. You can do it yourself at home."
Attach a small jewel or stud with spray glue, or go for bright colours that complement the front side.
Naja Rickette, a Los Angeles nail artist and consultant whose clients include Miranda Lambert, said flip-sides offer a lot of freedom for texture.
"Glitters and confetti and all kind of stuff are happening on the underside. You can wear a plain colour then have fun on the back," she said.
Extensions, gels or natural — sharpened tips are in.
"Rihanna's done them. Adele, Fergie. We're seeing it more and more. They're buffed at the tips so that's how you keep from hurting yourself," Barfield said. "There's no danger."
The look began popping up on red carpets about a year ago and is still going strong, she said.
Rickette said the stiletto also has morphed into a coffin.
"It's like a tapered square that actually looks like the shape of a coffin. It's a really beautiful shape. It elongates most people's fingers," she said.
Barfield considers gels a great option for people who don't want to be in the nail shop once a week, but the removal process, which involves soaking nails in polish remover, can damage nails.
Now, nail companies are making gel-effect topcoats and lacquers in a range of prices that offer a week or more of shine without the hassle, Barfield said. No UV light is needed and they come off easily with regular polish remover.
Sally Hansen's Miracle Gel in Bare Dare and the company's Miracle Gel Top Coat are available at drugstores for $10 each.
In June, OPI and Ace Hardware teamed up for an exclusive line of Clark + Kensington interior paint colours inspired by iconic OPI nail shades.
Broken into three distinctive colour palettes for the artist, the romantic and the wild at heart, the new paint shades include OPI's whimsical blue, Can't Find My Czechbook, and Gargantuan Green Grape.
More paint colours will be rolled out in 2015.
"To get the full the bang out of it will be next year. It takes time," said Suzi Weiss-Fischmann, co-founder and artistic director for OPI.
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